Every year the firm bakes thousands of cookies for clients and associates.
The elves in Santa’s workshop have nothing on the crew at Y2 Consultants.
Over two days last week Y2 employees churned out 8,000 cookies at the home of their bosses, Brenda Younkin and Zia Yasrobi.
They mixed, rolled, shaped and baked, then gave their creations away to 145 clients, town and county staffers, real estate agents, lawyers and other people and businesses the firm works with. Most deliveries were in person; some were by FedEx.
“We baked and delivered 4,000 cookies yesterday,” Younkin said the morning of Dec. 12. “We’ll basically do the same today.”
Cookie-making is a winter holiday tradition for Y2 Consultants, an engineering firm that Younkin and Yasrobi, who are married, started in 2010. They expanded it earlier this year with the acquisition of Pierson Land Works, and now have a staff of 32.
“Mandatory fun” is how Younkin describes the company bake-a-thon. Everyone pitches in unless there’s pressing business. As a result of the Pierson acquisition it was a new experience for about a third of the staff this year.
“Three years ago we were looking for something fun to do for clients,” Younkin said. “We went through all the options for purchased items and didn’t really like anything we found. I love to bake, and we decided to try to bake for clients.”
She wanted the gifts to be from the whole company, so all the employees came over to the house and baked and delivered cookies all day. Thus a tradition was born.
“This is my first year doing it,” GIS specialist Erin Sours said as she rolled out sugar cookie dough.
Sours likes to bake but is used to doing it on a smaller scale.
“This production level is something else,” she said.
John Kemp, a senior project manager, was a one-man assembly line at the oven, taking pans of cookies out when a beeper went off and replacing them with pans of dough.
This was the second Y2 cookie year for Kemp, who previously worked in New York City for a company where he was one of 900 employees.
“In my last firm we didn’t do much baking,” he said.
Making 666 dozen cookies requires organization, which is no problem for Younkin and Yasrobi.
“I grew up cooking for large ranch crews,” Younkin said, “and have always had large parties and gatherings, so big projects like this don’t scare me.”
The grocery list included lunch fixings for employees — roast chicken one day, smoked pork the other — as well as 100 pounds of flour, 50 pounds of sugar, 18 dozen eggs, 36 pounds of butter, 24 boxes of bakers chocolate and 20 pounds of cream cheese.
The cream cheese was for cappuccino brownies, a recipe so complex that Younkin and Yasrobi had to start them a day ahead of the two-day extravaganza.
“They’re tasty but high maintenance,” Younkin said.
Some of the other treats in this year’s selection were snickerdoodles, angel crispies, chocolate chip, peanut butter cup, Earl Grey shortbread, gingersnaps, pretzels coated with coconut oil and then rolled in sugar and cinnamon, and even gluten-free items like seasoned nuts and peanut brittle.
“I try to add a few new things every year,” Younkin said.
Marley Vaughn, a wetland and GIS specialist, worked on one of the newer varieties, rugelach. She spread jam on thin circles of dough, cut them into triangles and rolled them into crescents.
“This is my science experiment for the day,” she said. “I’ve never made it before. It took a first run to figure it out.”
The molds that Sours used stamped her sugar cookies with the words “Y2 Consultants,” but there were no other adornments on any cookies.
“No decorating,” Younkin said. “We don’t do anything fancy.”
Considering the number of people involved and the volume and variety of cookies, the treats looked professional. A scooper is the secret, Younkin said.
“It helps using a scooper,” she said. “Your cookies are exactly the same size all the time.”
Tracy Ross, marketing manager, organized the cookie packages that were bound for outside Teton County. All the cookies Y2 gave came with a recipe card and a greeting card signed by staffers and printed with tiny photos from the firm’s projects: a GIS map, a road, a sewer line, steel for a motel pool, etc.
Aside from spreading seasonal cheer and good will to clients and other business associates, the cookie project promotes a sense of togetherness at Y2 Consultants, Yasrobi said. Some employees don’t see each over the course of a normal workday.
“This brings everybody in here working together,” he said. “It’s a very good team-building exercise.”
As Younkin surveyed the action, she said, “It’s fun. I’ll be glad when it’s over, but it’s fun.”